MILAN, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Juventus are steaming clear of the rest of the field, AS Roma are struggling to keep up, the two Milan clubs lurch from one crisis to another and Napoli are exasperatingly inconsistent.
The current Serie A season, which enters the second half at the weekend, is turning into a carbon copy of the last one.
Juventus, who won last year’s title by a massive 17 points from Roma, are five points clear at the top, having won 14 out of 19 games, and threatening to race away from the rest of the field again.
They have an excellent chance to extend their lead further when they host lowly Chievo (Sunday 1400 GMT) and second-placed Roma, who are once again the only team to put up a decent fight, have a difficult match away to Fiorentina (Sunday 1945).
Although not quite as dominant as last year, Juventus still have the best attack, with 42 goals scored, the stingiest defence, with only nine conceded, and the league’s top-scorer, Carlos Tevez with 13 goals.
In midfielder Paul Pogba, they also have the player who is widely considered to be the most talented in the league.
Roma, after a promising start, have become bogged down in a series of drawn matches, just as they did last season.
Talismanic forward Francesco Totti, 38, has delivered a few magical moments, including a derby brace against Lazio which he celebrated by taking a selfie in front of the Curva Sud.
Rudi Garcia’s team have dominated most matches but sometimes lack a killer touch and have been held in four of their last six league games, but have an eight-point cushion over Napoli and Sampdoria, who are joint third (33 points)
Napoli, third last season, have beaten both Roma and Lazio, yet have surrendered precious points in draws at home to Empoli and Cagliari and defeat to Chievo.
Only seven points separate them from tenth-placed Palermo and the clubs sandwiched in between include both AC Milan and Inter Milan, level on 26 points.
Milan have lost their last two home games, both against lower-placed opponents, and Inter have won only twice in eight outings since sacking Walter Mazzarri and bringing back Roberto Mancini for a second stint.
Both believe they can finish third, which would earn a place in the Champions League playoff round.
Inter host Torino on Sunday (1400) while Milan visit direct rivals Lazio, fifth with 31 points, on Saturday (1945).
“The team follows me and we have to turn things around quickly,” said Milan coach Filippo Inzaghi. “We’re seven points behind third place and we have to try right until the end.” (Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by John O‘Brien)